Naive CD4+ T cells proliferate strongly in response to stimulation by superantigens such as staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). However, when these same cells revert to a resting phenotype and are subjected to restimulation with either SEB or anti-CD3, the majority of these SEB-responsive cells undergo Fas ligand (FasL)-mediated activation-induced cell death (AICD). We investigated the impact of Fas expression on T cell AICD by utilizing B cell stimulators that lacked functional FasL and either expressed or did not express the Fas receptor. Our results indicate that B cells play an important role in modulating the level of T cell AICD via the Fas/FasL pathway. Activated B cells expressing high levels of Fas receptor can redirect the FasL expressed by T cells primed to undergo AICD away from the T cells and prevent the induction of AICD in these cells. Furthermore, B cells stimulated through both the CD40 receptor and membrane IgM appear to mediate a stronger protective effect on T cells by virtue of their resistance to FasL-mediated cytolysis. These observations suggest a mechanism by which normal B cell and T cell responses to foreign antigen are maintained, while responses to self antigen are not.